Vhils has just finished carving this portrait in Butterworth, Malaysia, for the Urban Xchange Festival. Organised by the same team behind the Hin Bus Depot Art Centre whose efforts have placed the island of Penang on the global urban art map, this year's edition of the festival saw dozens of local and international artists leaving their mark on the streets of the island's main city, George Town, and the town of Butterworth, lying on the mainland just across the straight.
Carved into the side elevation of the former Nan Fung Textiles Group cotton mill (currently home to The Mills cultural and creative hub) on Pak Tin Par Street (Tsuen Wan District), this is the first in a series of large-scale mural interventions Vhils will be creating around Hong Kong over the next few months. The project is being developed in partnership with The Mills, the Mills Gallery and the HOCA Foundation.
According to Vhils: “The current portrait was inspired by research into the textile industry of Hong Kong and its workers,” with the purpose of helping preserve the memory and accentuate the importance of their contribution, often anonymous, to an industry that played a decisive role in developing the local material and human economy.
Vhils is painting his largest mural to date in the port of Catania.
Commissioned by Fondazione Terzo Pilastro Italia e Mediterraneo and curated by 999contemporary for Emergence Festival 2015, Vhils was invited to create a piece that would cover a structure comprising eight grain silos in the port of Catania, in the Italian island of Sicily.
Purposefully facing the approach from the sea, this huge production (30.2 × 64 m) greets all ships and boats arriving or departing from the island's main gateway. It highlights Sicily's importance as one of the key crossroads and meeting points for the myriad cultures and civilisations that have left their imprint in the Mediterranean region throughout the centuries.
According to the artist's statement: “The intention to depict human elements – a face gazing into the horizon – by weaving them into the fabric of the territory is an attempt to highlight this meaningful historical relationship between peoples, the sea and the land, but also to express something of the present-day reality at a time when Europe is witnessing a new humanitarian crisis, as a new wave of migrants and refugees arrive on its shores in search of safety, thus expressing the need for us to look into this situation.”
The large-scale mural is still in progress.
In the scope of the upcoming documentary "O Sentido da Vida - The Meaning of Life" directed by Portuguese award-winning film-maker Miguel Gonçalves Mendes, in a joint initiative with the ESA - European Space Agency , Vhils created a site-specific piece especially conceived for the Observation Cupola of the International Space Station (ISS) – the only place from where astronauts can observe the planet Earth in its entirety. The piece portrays Andreas Mogensen – the first Danish astronaut to make it into space – and was made to fit into the main window of the Cupola module. Printed on micro-perforated PVC film, the portrait incorporates the nuances which the Earth's rotation and light project onto astronaut Andreas Mogensen's face. After a two-day journey aboard the Russian spacecraft Soyuz, Andreas Mogensen reached the International Space Station. Once aboard, the astronaut shot a video featuring Vhils's first site-specific artwork in space.
Vhils unveils portrait of Native American at the Unexpected Mural Festival in Fort Smith, US.
Vhils recovers old fishing boat as part of this year's Walk & Talk Festival in São Miguel island, Azores.
Portrait in Kiev, Ukraine, depicting Serhiy Nigoyan (1993-2014), the first Euromaidan activist to have died during the Hrushevskoho Street Riots on 22 January 2014. A second-generation Armenian-Ukrainian, Serhiy represents the multicultural dimension of the protests, clearly contradicting the version disseminated in the mainstream media that only fascists were involved. The protests were supported by a majority of the population demanding an end to the corrupt political elite ruling the country. The piece is located at Heavenly Hundred Garden, a community project developed by volunteers in a former derelict site in central Kiev with no official support. This is the only way I could contribute, by paying my respects to those who lost their lives in the name of freedom to choose their own future. The eyes of Serhiy are the eyes of all the Heavenly Hundred.
A very special thank you to Oleg, Zhenya, Oksana, Dima, and the Embassy of Portugal in Ukraine. Thanks also to my team, Alcatrão, Paulo, and André.
Vhils's latest public commission is a unique piece created in Portuguese traditional-style pavement that pays tribute to the late Fado diva Amália Rodrigues (1920-1999). Located in Lisbon's city centre, the piece is a collaboration with the city council's team of paviours. Evoking Fado – the quintessential Portuguese urban music genre – and the city of Lisbon which Amália sung so well, it is also a tribute to the paviours themselves as the city's oldest urban artists responsible for developing a singular decorative art which has become part of Lisbon's and Portugal's visual identity.
A big thank you to Jorge Duarte, Nuno Serra, Carlos da Conceição, José António Cunha, Mário José Costa, Nuno José Santos, José António Rodrigues, Victor Nunes and Isabel Polónia (Coordinator).
Mural at Quinta to Mocho, Loures, Portugal for “O Bairro i o Mundo” project. A collective work with the participation of the community from conception to execution.